…As Games Kick Off To A Uniquely Scottish Start’

janet AmponsahAn extravaganza of music, dance and celebration got the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games off to a spectacular start at Celtic Park on Wednesday as the people of Glasgow and Scotland put on a party like only they can to start the 20th edition of the Games.

While quite rightly it will be the exploits of the athletes that will be the centre of attention over the next 11 days, there were stars of a different kind on show as Rod Stewart, Billy Connolly, Susan Boyle and 71 Highland Terriers lit up the occasion.

While Stewart, Boyle and other artists including Amy McDonald and local dance groups entertained the packed stands it was the little terriers who led each of the 71 teams into the Celtic Park during the Athletes Parade that were a particular favourite and a uniquely Scottish touch.

Not surprisingly it was the host nation who got the longest and loudest cheer when they made their appearance at the end of the Athletes Parade, led by judo star and Flagbearer Euan Burton.

In a break from tradition the teams were welcomed on by their region rather than in alphabetical order as part of a unique UNICEF campaign that was cleverly woven into the night’s proceedings. Hosts of the last Games in Delhi, India were the first into the arena representing Asia, followed by the teams from Oceania, Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe.

In between each of the regions making their entrance a special video was broadcast on the huge screen running the length of the South Stand, which featured stars such as Sir Chris Hoy, Sachin Tendulkar, Colin Jackson and Sir Alex Ferguson.

The videos highlighted the work been done by UNICEF projects in each of the six regions of the Commonwealth and with an estimated one billion watching around the world on, Hoy and Scottish actor James McAvoy called on the watching millions to pick up their phone and text a donation, with UNICEF revealing that over £2.5 million had been raised from UK donations alone by the time the Ceremony drew to a close.

The Athletes Oath was read by Scottish Paralympian Libby Clegg, former Scottish shooter Donald McIntosh and wrestler Victor Keelan.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond then addressed the crowd and invited everyone to stand in a minutes silence to pay respects to the people who lost their lives on the Malaysia Airlines plane that was shot down over Ukraine last week.

The moment was particularly poignant for Commonwealth Games Federation President Prince Imran who hails from Malaysia and he thanked Salmond for his kind words.

Then came the moment that everyone was waiting for as the Queen’s Baton finally made its way into Celtic Park where Hoy bounded up to the platform to present it to the Queen.

“The Baton Relay represents a calling together of people from every part of the Commonwealth and serves as a reminder of our shared ideals and ambitions as a diverse, resourceful and cohesive family,” said the Queen.

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